Perhaps you are that strong person who has no problem saying no to the narcissist. Maybe you enjoy challenge and confrontation. When you needed elective credits, you enrolled in Jousting 101 and got an A. You rock boats just to see how people react. But, if you’re an INFJ, you avoid confrontation like you avoid the mall on Christmas Eve, or any other time of the year.
She couldn’t say no to the narcissist.
She tried. She could be heard saying, “No?” in an indecisive, up-talking, frightened mouse-like voice, if a mouse were a 1st grader testing the waters after his teacher asked him to push in his chair. And even though that mouse had squeaked out his little no, he still pushed in his chair.
She never said no in the beginning, of course. Who says no in the beginning of a relationship? Why risk losing something so sweet? There is nothing to say no to when you are in the throes of passion and red flags aren’t on your radar.
But the newness wore off about the time she was comfortable having him see her without mascara, which, come to think of it, was pretty soon into the relationship.
It wasn’t over anything huge. She wanted to make a plan to go out for dinner. He said, “Let’s stay in.”
Something as silly as disagreeing about what to do for dinner shouldn’t be cause for concern. She simply said, “No. I’m tired. I don’t feel like cooking. I’d like to go out.” (This was before she’d adopted the timid mouse pose, and before she’d learned of the perils of rocking the boat.)
Couples take turns, right? One night you decide, and the next night he decides. Some nights the two of you are on the same page, some nights you are in different books. It’s about moods and personalities. It isn’t a big deal. When there’s love, these things aren’t issues. He had decided last night, and now the ball was in her court, or so she thought.
Only to him, it was a big deal. When she said, “No, I don’t feel like cooking,” he delivered an Oscar-winning performance of The Cold Shoulder.
That would be the first of many instances where she realized that saying no would cost her. That was when she realized that it was her job to keep the peace.
Fast forward to marriage, children and the desperate need to say, “No.”
When it was crucial to say, “No, do not spank her for bringing her baby a blanket, just because you don’t want another thing cluttering the living room,” she didn’t.
When it was critical to say, “No, don’t punch him in the stomach ‘to teach him a lesson’ about the boundaries of rough-housing,” she couldn’t.
When it was necessary to say, “No, do not dismiss your daughter when she asks you about the best color for fingernail polish,” she didn’t.
When she should have told him, “No, you can’t give me the cold shoulder when I tell you that I’m unhappy with something,” she froze.
When he didn’t see a problem with leaving her home to “babysit” every weekend while he either skied or rafted, she should have said, “No.”
When he got up from the dinner table, before all the meals had been eaten, she might have said, “No, we are a family, and we stay at the table until the last little eater has finished.”
She could have said, “No! It isn’t all about you, all of the time!”
She might have said, “No! You can’t act like a man who doesn’t have children. You have to parent, too.”
She probably should have said, “No, they aren’t little extensions of you, they are their own little people who need a safe, happy home.”
Or even, “No, you can’t expect us to love you enough to fill that gaping hole in your soul!”
But it was when he said, “I can see the problem is that I just don’t have enough control around here. Do you just want me to move out?” that she finally said, “No!”
That’s when she should have said, “Yes.”
To be continued …